chapter  3
13 Pages

The Creation of Self-Government and Local Leadership in Central Japan from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries

This chapter presents the meaning of Western culture for the self-perception of particularly the Meiji elite individual by focusing on an analysis of attire, household environment, and manners and ethics. Nineteenth-century thought in Europe and Asia abounds in discussions of ethics, propriety, and civilization. The lites intimacy with Western culture at work and at home was also marked with thorns. Even after the Meiji era, members of the Japanese aristocracy continued to feel the psychological pangs of mental and emotional Westernization due to their proximity to a Western style of cosmopolitan life-style. The Japanese use of native and Western costume has carried an important symbolic message to reinforce the pragmatism argument of modern/Western at work in the public realm versus being more Japanese at home in the private real. Nothing brings out the personal problem of the rational and the emotive in a cultural context more clearly than the Meiji dictates on public propriety, manners, and etiquette.